There’s a very talented man out there by the name of Andrew Kaggia who created a very powerful 3D Animation by the name WAGEUZI. It’s a very new look at the battle between politicians for the votes of Kenyans. If you haven’t already, kindly take 13 minutes out of your day and watch it.
It made me think back to a conversation I had with a Poli Sci/IR professor earlier this week on the youth vote. It began with a discussion about all the things currently lacking in Kenya: fuel, gas, sugar, maize; commodities we know are there, but aren’t being sold. Artificial shortage. We talked about the various political figures involved in this hoarding and – frankly – strong-armed robbery. We settled on Raila and began to address his underhanded dealings when she finally asked:
“Why doesn’t someone tell the youth about this? People think that Raila suffered under Moi – which he did – and that now he’s part of them. A man of the people, of sorts. Really he’s not. He’s worse, wealthier and about to be more powerful. Why don’t you tell your peers about it?” she asked.
I tried to explain that while we may know about all these instances of corruption, the bulk of the youth don’t. And even if we told them, I had little hope it would change anything. A few months to voting time, trailers and buses would make their rounds and buy votes; in cash or kind. Tribal lines would have already been long-formed. I mean, they already are. Tensions will already be heightened. Politicians will deploy spindoctors and PR teams; they will market themselves, rebrand, repackage, so many times that the truth and lies will all end up in the same scrap heap.
The kiss of death, however, is that whether or not all unfair play fails, rigging will be in full swing. Watch for 101% voter turnouts and brace for ballot boxes disappearing.
Sigh. I said all this to the professor and affirmed that my thinking was that we should invest time in telling the youth not to get violent after the fact; reminding them of 2007 and creating some form of reconciliation.
She said something I didn’t expect. She said that although we may not be dealing with a completely new Kenya, we will be dealing with a New Youth. And this youth knows that their votes count. “They lost people in 2007. They’re waiting for change, they’re waiting to vote. They watch TV, listen to radio, follow the scandals.”
She recounted stories from her long experience in civic training. “In 1992, when multipartyism came to Kenya, voters were thoroughly uneducated and underprepared. They thought that if a politician gave you money and you didn’t vote for them, you would be cursed. These days, they’ll take money from everyone and vote for who they want to. It’s no secret that ballots are secret.”
We continued to talk about how votes are bought and why candidates like Uhuru and Raila have the upper hand on others financially. I was recently privy to an unofficial fundraiser for the latter. Words cannot express my sheer shock at how many tens of millions were raised in one night. I sincerely doubt anybody in the room doled out less than a million.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, Martha Karua had a little fundraiser. The outcome was a lot more humble, as was the entire affair. In a private conversation it was suggested that perhaps she should target people with bigger money. She said something extremely profound; that she wasn’t out for people with money, she wanted people who could and would vote. Money would not be the deciding factor, votes would.
As the large majority, we the youth are exactly that; the deciding factor. Aaah, the weight on the youth’s shoulders gets heavier by the day. Why shouldn’t it? We really are the ones sowing the seeds for the future, and we too shall reap it. What we do ultimately changes the direction the country goes in. More importantly, we really are the only wild card left. The Joker in the deck of the 2012 elections is your and my voter’s card.
So when I see something like what Andrew Kaggia has done with Wageuzi, I remember what was said to me. This may not be a new Kenya, but we are dealing with a new Kenyan Youth.
Let’s hope this changes the direction of the country, leading to and beyond the next elections.